“A Peaceful Election”
Congolese at the polls. Photo by Federico, courtesy of Extra Extra.
By and large, the voting has ended in the DRC, according to The Salon:
With the exception of the three towns that had to continue/report the voting for today, due to numerous arsons (Mbuji-mayi, Mweka and Mwene-ditu), all the voting stations have closed, and most have already finished the counting processes, and published their individual results. However the Electoral commission have put a moratorium on partial results, to allow the 3 aforementioned towns to vote without undue pressure.
Extra Extra writes:
All the people who were quite coy in recent weeks when asked whether they would vote are now coming up to me with a grin to say proudly ‘Moi, j’ai voté hier’ (I voted yesterday). One added that when standing in the queue, she told a man off for telling his wife who to vote for.
There were some caveats however as the blogger explained:
There have been a few instances where people arrived to discover that someone else had voted in their name. Just an honest mistake, one has to hope. Most people had voted by 4pm, remarkably.
The Salon had explanations for the incidents that did get reported:
The reported incidents were in Tshisekedi's stronghold. These were people decided to stop the polls from going forward.
In a post significantly titled “Peaceful Elections”, Friends of the Congo echoed much of what The Salon and Extra Extra had to say:
The Friends of the Congo observation delegation in Kinshasa reported that the voting in Kinshasa was peaceful as it was in much of the country. The main disturbances took place in the Kasai province where supporters of Etienne Tshisekedi boycotted the elections and prevented voters from going to the polls. Tshisekedi's supporters set ablaze trucks carrying ballots as well as polling stations. The Independent Electoral Commission had to extend voting to a second day in Kasai because of the disruptions on Sunday.
My Heart's In Accra counted the election as one of the UN's low-profile successes.
Alleged Kidnapping of Candidate's Security Guards by Kabila
On Sunday, Friends of the Congo wrote:
The Friends of the Congo were contacted (…) from Kinshasa by one of the presidential candidates, Alafuele Mbuyi Kalala of the Rally for a New Society. Dr. Kalala shared with us that Kabila’s Special Presidential Security Group (GSSP in French) kidnapped his press secretary, Mr. Jacques Mampembe and his special assistant, Mr. Kalengi Kasyui, at 4:50 P.M. Kinshasa time.
Dr, Kalala said that two presidential guard vehicles without licence plates pulled up to their car and snatched his two campaign staff persons from the car; dr. Kalala was not in the car at the time. Dr. Kalala said the elections were plagued with a tremendous amount of irregularities, nonetheless “they [Kabila’s government] will have to kill all of us to steal the elections.”
Dr. Kalala calls on the United Nations and the international community to call for the immediate release of Mr. Mampembe and Mr. Kasuyi.
Extra Extra speculated on the count to come:
This may well be the high point of the whole process. The count will take a long time (several weeks), and unless communication efforts improve dramatically, speculation, rumours and suspicion will abound concerning what is going on behind the scenes.
The Salon also looked to the process of tallying results:
Everybody is waiting for the results, and the waiting is very tough. People are very apprehensive of the various reactions after the results are announced, so this period of incertitude is a very tense one. We are still monitoring the Net and Radio Okapi to let you know as soon as there are news. Note however that the final results will only intervene on August 31st, and we will only be able to give tendencies. So far, participation in the East seems to average around 80%+. Not bad, no?
In response to a comment to his blog, The Salon further broke down the counting process and the technology behind it:
Each station has an average of 600 voters, so that goes quite fast. They are sending the ballots to 62 computing centers, all over the country. And there the centers will computerize the data, and send them to a central server. But they are sending preliminary messages by cellphone messages.
According to Friends of the Congo:
The results from the elections will not be finalized for three weeks. Although, preliminary results may be released in days. Should there be a second round, the Electoral Commission has announced that it will take place on October 29, 2006.
Lingering Opposition Skepticism
Says Friends of the Congo:
Members of the opposition maintain their position that there were a lot of irregularities and let it be known that should Kabila win in the first round, the country will become ungovernable. There is still a strong belief that Western governments and corporations strongly back Kabila.
French-speaking DRC-based opposition bloggers were by and large quiet throughout the weekend and while Philippe Liondjo of Prince du Fleuve du Congo did post today, it was to (Fr) continue pre-election debates about candidate and interim President Joseph Kabila's background. Today's questions had to do with Kabila's education, namely whether he holds a law degree from a Washington University and if so, whether that degree is more than B.A.